Tech Briefs

Modified Coaxial Probe Feeds for Layered Antennas

Coaxial shields are connected to radiator and ground planes at standing-wave nodes. In a modified configuration of a coaxial probe feed for a layered printed-circuit antenna (e.g., a microstrip antenna), the outer conductor of the coaxial cable extends through the thickness of at least one dielectric layer and is connected to both the ground-plane conductor and a radiator-plane conductor. This modified configuration simplifies the incorporation of such radio-frequency integrated circuits as power dividers, filters, and low-noise amplifiers. It also simplifies the design and fabrication of stacked antennas with aperture feeds.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Antennas


Detecting Negative Obstacles by Use of Radar

Changes in diffraction and reflection would be used to detect abrupt downslopes. Because such wavelengths are comparable to the characteristic dimensions of terrain features associated with negative hazards, a significant amount of diffraction would occur at such features. In effect, the diffraction would afford a limited ability to see corners and to see around corners. Hence, the system might utilize diffraction to detect corners associated with negative obstacles. At the time of reporting the information for this article, preliminary analyses of diffraction at simple negative obstacles had been performed, but an explicit description of how the system would utilize diffraction was not available.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Electronics & Computers, Radar, Terrain


Simulator for Testing Spacecraft Separation Devices

A report describes the main features of a system for testing pyrotechnic and mechanical devices used to separate spacecraft and modules of spacecraft during flight. The system includes a spacecraft simulator [also denoted a large mobility base (LMB)] equipped with air thrusters, sensors, and data-acquisition equipment. The spacecraft simulator floats on air bearings over an epoxy-covered concrete floor. This free-flotation arrangement enables simulation of motion in outer space in three degrees of freedom: translation along two orthogonal horizontal axes and rotation about a vertical axis. The system also includes a static stand. In one application, the system was used to test a boltretraction system (BRS) intended for separation of the lifting-body and deorbitpropulsion stages of the X-38 spacecraft. The LMB was connected via the BRS to the static stand, then pyrotechnic devices that actuate the BRS were fired. The separation distance and acceleration were measured. The report cites a document, not yet published at the time of reporting the information for this article, that is said to present additional detailed information.

Posted in: Briefs, Test & Measurement, Test equipment and instrumentation, Spacecraft


Apparatus for Hot Impact Testing of Material Specimens

It is not necessary to cool and reheat the furnace between tests. An apparatus for positioning and holding material specimens is a major subsystem of a system for impact testing of the specimens at temperatures up to 1,500 °C. This apparatus and the rest of the system are designed especially for hot impact testing of advanced ceramics, composites, and coating materials.

Posted in: Briefs, Test & Measurement, Ceramics, Coatings, colorants, and finishes, Composite materials, Test equipment and instrumentation


Instrument for Aircraft-Icing and Cloud- Physics Measurements

Data on cloud water content are deduced from hot-wire power levels. The figure shows a compact, rugged, simple sensor head that is part of an instrumentation system for making measurements to characterize the severity of aircraft-icing conditions and/or to perform research on cloud physics. The quantities that are calculated from measurement data acquired by this system and that are used to quantify the severity of icing conditions include sizes of cloud water drops, cloud liquid water content (LWC), cloud ice water content (IWC), and cloud total water content (TWC).

Posted in: Briefs, Test & Measurement, Measurements, Icing and ice detection, Test equipment and instrumentation


Improved Apparatus for Testing Monoball Bearings

Automated tests can be performed over wide ranges of conditions.A desk-sized apparatus for testing monoball bearings and their lubricants offers advantages, relative to prior such apparatuses, of (1) a greater degree of automation and (2) capability of operation under wider and more realistic ranges of test conditions. The ranges of attainable test conditions include load from 100 to >50,000 lb (445 to >2.22 × 105 N), resisting torque up to 30,000 lb-in. (≈3,390 N-m), oscillating rotation through an angle as large as 280°, and oscillation frequency from 0 to 6 Hz. With addition of some components and without major modification of the apparatus, it is also possible to perform tests under environmental conditions that include temperature from −320 to 1,000 °F (−196 to +538 °C), relative humidity from 0 to 100 percent, and either air at ambient pressure, high vacuum, or an atmosphere of monatomic oxygen.

Posted in: Briefs, Test & Measurement, Bearings, Test equipment and instrumentation



PixelLearn is an integrated user-interface computer program for classifying pixels in scientific images. Heretofore, training a machine-learning algorithm to classify pixels in images has been tedious and difficult. PixelLearn provides a graphical user interface that makes it faster and more intuitive, leading to more interactive exploration of image data sets. PixelLearn also provides image-enhancement controls to make it easier to see subtle details in images. PixelLearn opens images or sets of images in a variety of common scientific file formats and enables the user to interact with several supervised or unsupervised machine-learning pixel-classifying algorithms while the user continues to browse through the images. The machinelearning algorithms in PixelLearn use advanced clustering and classification methods that enable accuracy much higher than is achievable by most other software previously available for this purpose. PixelLearn is written in portable C++ and runs natively on computers running Linux, Windows, or Mac OS X.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software


The U.S. Government does not endorse any commercial product, process, or activity identified on this web site.